La Condamine Cityscape, Monaco

This is a quick late afternoon snap of Monaco’s La Condamine district which overlooks the Principality’s landmark harbor. If the view leaves you with the sense that the city-state is densely populated, trust it.

Not only is the Principality the most densely populated country in the world, it is also home to the planet’s greatest density of millionaires. According to a 2014 study by the London-based wealth analysts WealthInsight, nearly one out of every three of its residents had net assets of $1 million or more.

That high concentration of wealth in the tiny but brilliantly bright beacon of luxury and glitz on the Cote d’Azur is hardly news. Tourists venture there these days largely to gawk at the immense yachts in the three main ports, to snap photos of some of the world’s most expensive cars, and to hope to catch a glimpse of Prince Albert.

Although I do have a small collection of snapshots of the Prince, the Principality isn’t really my cup of green tea.

I made annual –sometimes twice annual– trips to Monaco for a decade from 2003; after the first, when I tried to compare what I saw and experienced with the preconceptions I had of the place, the novelty soon wore off.

Its over-the-top nature –the ostentatiousness, the marble walkways, the boutiques and dealers catering to the world’s richest clientele, the vacant glam– none of it’s for me. A nice place to visit, but…

When most people think of Monaco, by area the second smallest country on the planet, they think it synonymous with Monte Carlo. But it’s not.

Monte Carlo is actually one of seven wards within the tiny city-state: Monaco-Ville, La Condamine, Fontvieille, Moneghetti, Larvotto, and La Rousse/Saint Roman are the others. La Condamine is the central ward, home to the famous sprawling Port Hercules as well as the finish line for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Despite the pervasive outward pretentiousness and sky-rocketing property values, many locals I know have told me that they feel that the Principality’s glory days are in fact behind them, with a re-invention in one form or another, necessary.

Those could be little more than nostalgic longings or a reaction to Monaco’s more recent demographic shifts. Only about 20 percent of its residents are Monegasque, with Russians the major buyers over the past decade. I don’t really know.

Which is why I decided to process the photo in black and white, giving it a feel that harkens back to my perception of those mythical glory days.


Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 758th straight, was snapped on 02-Oct-2012 in Monte Carlo, Monaco.



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